War Threatens Ukraine Surrogates, Intended Parents and Babies  

As the world watches in horror Vladimir Putin’s attack on the democratic republic of Ukraine, all of us are pondering the impact of this terrible, historic war. Certainly few are more impacted by the disruption, displacement and physical destruction of the Russian attack than intended parents from other countries whose Ukrainian surrogates either are pregnant or have already given birth and are now under threat of attack.

As I shared recently with reporters for legal blog Above the Law, The Wall Street Journal and the feminist blog Jezebel, the Russian invasion of Ukraine is not the first international crisis the reproductive health profession has faced. In the process, we’ve only grown better prepared and more efficient at helping families navigate legal and jurisdictional obstacles.

During the most recent of the prior crises, when the COVID lockdowns and travel bans disrupted birth plans and left babies stranded, our team at International Fertility Law Group helped intended parents from around the world get safely to the U.S. for their babies’ births via surrogacy and/or return safely to their home countries with their newborns.

Ukraine a Popular Surrogacy Destination

Ukraine had become a popular destination for intended parents from countries that ban or restrict access to surrogacy, perceived as a safe and economical alternative to the world’s #1 destination for international surrogacy: the United States. Even so, only married, heterosexual couple are allowed to use surrogacy in Ukraine, and only if the man is proven to be sterile.

But other than those eligibility restrictions, surrogacy is virtually unregulated in Ukraine, which means there is no safety net of legislated care and protection for intended parents, surrogates or babies. This only increases the pressure to find diplomatic solutions to establish the nationality and obtain travel documents from the parents’ home countries for babies born via surrogacy Ukraine. In time of war, with emergency and diplomatic agencies taxed or under fire, all of the normal processes for establishing parentage and citizenship become even more precarious, more complicated, and less accessible. Those involved in emergency situations, especially in the nature of a geo-political or natural disaster, must resort to diplomatic and humanitarian solutions through collaboration of all of the participants and the professionals assisting them.

Countries Establish Emergency Protocols for Ukraine Surrogacy Newborns

ABC News reported this week on a couple from Australia, which bans compensated surrogacy, desperately trying to reach their newborn daughter, born 10 weeks early on February 22 to a surrogate in Ukraine. Their daughter was conceived after 15 unsuccessful IVF attempts.

For the past eight weeks, surrogacy non-profit Growing Families has been working with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to develop a faster process for establishing Australian citizenship for babies born to surrogates in Ukraine, director Sam Everingham told ABC News. Everingham said at least 22 Australian couples have existing pregnancies in Ukraine and another 30 couples currently are in the process of embryo transfer.

Meanwhile the Irish government has put plans in place to provide expedited travel documents for newborns born via surrogacy in Ukraine to return with their parents to Ireland, the BBC reports. As many as a dozen Irish babies are due to be born to surrogates in Ukraine through May. While registering babies born abroad for Irish citizenship normally takes up to four weeks, the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs has temporarily eased the requirement that both parents travel to Kyiv to obtain their babies’ travel documents. It also appears the U.K. will be reinstituting emergency passport/travel documents procedures recently utilized during the height of COVID travel disruptions to help U.K. intended parents get back home from surrogacies abroad.

Efforts like those of Australia, Ireland and the U.K. to expedite travel and statehood for families and their babies born abroad are particularly important because babies born via surrogacy in Ukraine are essentially born stateless. In some cases, foreign intended parents may need to engage a Temporary Guardian with a Healthcare Power of Attorney to care for and make decisions for babies born in Ukraine until the parents are able to travel to bring them home.

As agonizing as further delay can be for those who may have struggled for years to become parents, those planning to undertake surrogacy in Ukraine who are not yet pregnant would be well advised to put off embryo implantation, or even consider transporting their embryos out of the war zone.

For those who have existing pregnancies, here are some of the things we have learned to help parents and surrogates navigate the crisis:

  • Travel disruption: Getting into the country may be difficult or become impossible. If allowed, flights may be cancelled, so check frequently.
  • Establishing parentage and nationality: Currently, both parents must be present in Ukraine to register for their child’s birth certificate since the child is born stateless. Delays in parents getting to Ukraine will delay the process of establishing the child's nationality.
  • Surrogate relocation: A surrogate may or may not be allowed to leave the country to ensure her and the child’s safety. Most countries don't allow, let alone support, surrogacy, so evacuation to another country is, at best, a complicated and only partial solution. Under best practices for surrogate selection, a surrogate will have children of her own, and she also may have a spouse, elderly parents or other family members, potentially preventing her from or making her unwilling to relocate.
  • POA/Guardianship: Under Ukraine law, while the baby’s Guardian under a Healthcare Power of Attorney can provide care for the child, the Guardian cannot sign paperwork for the baby’s birth certificate. Currently, both parents must be present in Ukraine to obtain their baby's birth certificate.
  • Wartime disruption: With conflict comes threats to the power supply and communications infrastructure. Storage of frozen embryos could become a concern, and reaching someone to provide answers and assurances may be difficult or impossible.  
  • Embassy/consulate communications: All intended parents should consult and communicate with their home governments regarding travel advisories. For those in need of emergency assistance or seeking to remain in Ukraine, staying in contact with their home nation’s embassy or consulate is essential.

We at IFLG and our colleagues in the assisted reproduction professional community are heartbroken for the people of Ukraine and for the Russian people who oppose this cruel attack on their sovereign neighbor. We pray for the safety of all the surrogates, the babies and the intended parents separated from their children by war or forced to travel into harm’s way and for a peaceful solution for all our families.


Richard Vaughn

Attorney Rich Vaughn is founder and principal of International Fertility Law Group, one of the world’s largest and best-known law firms focused exclusively on assisted reproductive technology, or ART, including in vitro fertilization (IVF), surrogacy, sperm donation or egg donation. Rich is co-author of the book “Developing A Successful Assisted Reproduction Technology Law Practice,” American Bar Association Publishing, 2017.

Peiya Wang
Paralegal (律师助理)

Peiya Wang joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2015, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases and provides translation services for many of IFLG’s international clients. Peiya moved to the United States in 2012 to attend Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, receiving a Master of Science degree in Global Studies and International Affairs in 2014. Peiya moved to Los Angeles in 2015, received her paralegal certification from UCLA Extension, and obtained her second Master of Science degree in Legal Studies from Loyola Law School. Peiya relocated back to her hometown, Beijing, China in 2019 and works from IFLG’s Beijing office. When away from the office, Peiya is a dragon boat paddler and a ballroom dancer, where she favors Rumbas and Cha-chas. She is fluent in Mandarin and English.

Luis Sosa

Luis R. Sosa joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2016, where he enjoys pursuing his passion for family and reproductive law. While working toward his bachelor’s degree at Florida International University which he received in 2013, Luis worked as a paralegal and legal assistant for family law litigation firms in Miami and Washington, D.C. As a paralegal and case manager for IFLG, Luis, who is bilingual in English and Spanish, manages surrogacy, egg donation and other reproductive law cases. Luis has worked for IFLG in both Los Angeles as well as San Francisco, and is currently based in Dallas, Texas. In addition to spending time with husband Randy and dog Marty, Luis enjoys being outdoors and appreciating the arts.

Toni Hughes

After receiving her B.S. in Business Management, Toni joined IFLG to pursue her dream of working in the legal field. As a Paralegal with over 10 years of experience in the assisted reproduction technology field, Toni is our Managing Paralegal, responsible for training and managing our paralegal staff. From drafting legal documents to assisting our clients with post-birth matters, Toni embraces the challenge of learning something new in this field each day. Besides spending time with her son, Jordan, Toni enjoys exploring new things, cooking, spending time with family and friends, and serving as a Youth Advisor for “Next Generation.”


Kim has over 30 years of experience in the legal field and has worked exclusively in surrogacy and assisted reproduction law since 1999. Kim is a senior case manager responsible for managing parental establishment cases and interacting with IFLG’s Of Counsel attorneys across the country. With three children of her own, Kim understands the importance of family and finds working in this area of law a rewarding experience.

Rich Vaughn

Attorney Rich Vaughn combined his personal passion as a father of twin boys born via assisted reproductive technology (ART) with more than 20 years of experience in business and technology law to build International Fertility Law Group. Today IFLG is one of the most successful and best-known law firms in the world focused exclusively on fertility law, helping thousands of intended parents through empathetic listening, compassionate guidance, and unmatched legal expertise. As an advocate for reproductive freedom, Rich also contributes his knowledge and time to improving the understanding and practice of ART law, most recently as a founder of and speaker at the first Cambridge University International Surrogacy Symposium held in June 2019, as immediate past chair of the American Bar Association ART Committee, and as a popular presenter to law schools, faculty and advocacy organizations all over the world.

Elizabeth Tamayo

Elizabeth received her Bachelors of Science degree in Criminal Justice from California State University of Los Angeles. Shortly after graduating, she continued her education at the University of California, Los Angeles where she obtained her Paralegal certificate. Elizabeth is fluent in Spanish and has been in the legal field since 2009. She is excited to be a part of the IFLG Team helping families realize their dreams.

Sunny Chien

Sunny joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2017, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases for many of IFLG’s international clients. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from California State University of Los Angeles, where she graduated cum laude. Sunny is bilingual in English and Mandarin and has extensive experience as a legal assistant and paralegal at Los Angeles-area law firms. She is excited to be part of the IFLG team. In her spare time, Sunny enjoys spending time with her family and their dog, going to the beach, cooking, and being outdoors.

Los Angeles

5757 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 645

Los Angeles, CA 90036

Phone:  +1 323 331 9343

Email:  info@iflg.net

Website:  www.iflg.net

New York

501 Fifth Avenue, Suite 1900

New York, NY 10017

Phone:  +1 844 400 2016

Email:  info@iflg.net

Website:  www.iflg.net

Molly O'Brien

Fertility law attorney Molly O’Brien began working in the field of assisted reproduction technology (ART) in 2005, at an egg donation agency and a surrogacy agency where she became familiar with all aspects of in-vitro fertilization, egg donation and the financial aspects of surrogacy. Since becoming an attorney in 2011, Molly has drafted and negotiated surrogacy, egg donation, sperm donation embryo donation agreements for hundreds of her clients all over the world.

Phoebe Sadler

Fertility law attorney Phoebe Sadler has a background in family law and has been practicing exclusively in the area of assisted reproduction technology (ART) law since 2018.

Rubina Aslanyan

Rubina has an extensive background in the legal field as a paralegal in Family Law and has worked in surrogacy and assisted reproduction law since 2012. Her area of focus is in managing and assisting clients with surrogacy, egg donation, and parental establishment cases for many of IFLG’s domestic and international clients. During her spare time, Rubina enjoys spending time with her family and dog Bella, traveling and cooking.

Alexander Espinoza
Legal Assistant

Alexander joined IFLG as a legal assistant in 2019, where he manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases. Alex is bilingual in English and Spanish and has been in the legal field for 23 years. Alex is excited to join the IFLG team and pursuing his will to help others in the reproductive law process. In his spare time he loves spending time with his family and friends, being outdoors, road trips, loves music and dancing.

Cara Stecker
Senior Paralegal

After receiving her paralegal certificate in 2005, Cara began working in assisted reproductive law. During the fifteen years Cara has worked in this field, she has gained a wide range of experience and knowledge that she uses to help better assist clients and those involved in the assisted reproductive journey. Cara’s primary roles involve managing parental establishment matters and coordination with IFLG’s Of Counsel attorney network, drafting contracts and parental establishment court documents and providing support to other team members. Cara finds great joy in being a small part of a team of caring people who help others achieve their dream of having a family. In her spare time, Cara enjoys spending time with her husband and three children, watching her children play the sports they love, and she enjoys, running, cycling and exploring the outdoors in the sun.

Stephanie Kimble

Stephanie received her BS in History and Political Thought from Concordia University Irvine in 2015 and her Paralegal Certificate from University of San Diego later that same year. She has been working as a Paralegal since 2016 in Family and Reproductive Law. She is excited to be part of International Fertility Law Group working on managing Surrogacy, Egg donation and Parental Establishment Cases.

Trish Pittman
Assistant Financial Coordinator

With more than 20 years of experience in the field of accounting, Trish joined the IFLG team in 2019 as Assistant Financial Coordinator. Her client-facing focus at IFLG is to assist with all client trust accounting. Trish is the mother of two daughters and enjoys spending time teaching and learning new things from them. In her free time, she loves long walks in the park and reading suspense and mystery novels.

Katie Deaquino
Senior Paralegal

Katie is a Senior Paralegal with IFLG and has dedicated over sixteen years to the areas of surrogacy and reproductive law. She received her Paralegal Certificate from Coastline Community College and has worked with some of the top law firms in the assisted reproduction community. Katie is also a commissioned Notary Public. With IFLG, Katie manages Surrogacy, Egg Donation, and Parental Establishment cases and provides support to other IFLG team members. Katie truly enjoys helping others build their families through assisted reproduction and is thankful she has had the rewarding experience of assisting IFLG clients. Katie often spends her free time with her Husband, four young children and her bulldog “Bella”.

Elsa Jimenez
Legal Assistant

Elsa joined IFLG as a Legal Assistant in 2019, bringing more than 35 years of experience working in the legal profession (concentrating in tort and litigation matters). At IFLG she assists surrogates with their surrogacy and parental matters. The oldest of five siblings, born and raised in East Los Angeles to Mexican immigrant parents, Elsa loves “seeing the beauty of families forming” through assisted reproductive technology. She and her husband Carlos have four children and one grandson. Elsa enjoys jazz and ’80s music, being outdoors in nature, collecting teacups and tea pots, and spending time with her close-knit family.